You’ve a blood assignment, victim’s husband tells NASS

A Director in the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Mr. Paul Okwulehie, who lost his wife, Maria, in the Dana Air crash in Lagos on June 3, has called on the National Assembly committees on aviation to shun any attempt to cover up the sharp practices that might be discovered during the probe.

He described the assignment by the committees as a “blood assignment” that must be treated with all seriousness and sincerity.

Appearing before the committee on Friday in Abuja, Okwulehie said a thorough investigation by the NASS was necessary.

He said, “I appeal to all of you that are involved in this probe to do a thorough job. Investigate everything that has to be investigated. That crash was an avoidable one. So many things were wrong.

“You will be helping the nation in forestalling future occurrences if you can do a thorough job in this investigation, and by so doing, you will go a long way to console and reduce the pain and sorrow of all the bereaved families.”

Okwulehie added, “Please, let not the blood of the victims be in vain. Don’t do any cover-up. Please expose everything that needs to be exposed. Tell the truth after the investigation. This is a very serious assignment for you, and it is a blood assignment.”

Also appearing before the committee, another witness, Mr. Godwin Ike, a passenger on board a Dana Air flight of July14, 2010 flying from Abuja to Lagos, described how the plane’s engines failed to start after passengers had fully boarded.

He briefed the committee on Friday at the final day of the public hearing, organised by the Senate and the House Committees on Aviation.

Ike said that after several minutes of efforts to restart the engine of the plane, the pilot informed the passengers that the engineers would have to come down to start the engine manually.

“Based on my knowledge of aviation and understanding of aircraft, it means that if the engines were started manually and while on flight the engines packed up, either through an encounter of volcanic ash or a bird flying into the engines, it would be difficult for the pilots to electronically restart the engine and that would lead to disaster,” he said.

He noted that he had to raise the alarm, informing other passengers that the development showed that the plane was not airworthy.

According to him, his alarm prompted other passengers to ask questions about the airworthiness of the plane, making some of them to decide to abort their trip to Lagos.

He said the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, who was aboard the flight, was not happy about his agitation.

“The minister felt that I should not have raised the alarm and told me that if the pilots felt that the plane was not safe, they would not put their own lives at risk. But I said it was a matter of placing values and how much value the pilots were putting on their own lives and I was not prepared to take the risk,” Ike said.

He explained that although 23 of them disembarked, they were detained in the airport until the plane landed in Lagos.